New St Albans biomass controversy

PUBLISHED: 14:57 16 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

A bird's eye view of the new biomass facility plans

A bird's eye view of the new biomass facility plans

A PROPOSED new biomass facility on the outskirts of St Albans would sit alongside an existing wood recycling site instead of replacing it, nearby residents have learned. The continuation of wood recycling on the site came to light during a series of meeti

A PROPOSED new biomass facility on the outskirts of St Albans would sit alongside an existing wood recycling site instead of replacing it, nearby residents have learned.

The continuation of wood recycling on the site came to light during a series of meetings between residents and Navitas Environ-mental which has now submitted a planning application for a biomass facility in Potters Crouch, close to Apps Pond Lane.

Biomass technology uses organic by-products as a fuel, eliminating the need for fossil fuels to meet energy needs. In the case of the Potters Crouch facility, it would use waste wood.

Among the site's closest neighbours is the Verulam Estate which has been plagued with smells from the site where fire has broken out on a number of occasions in recent years.

Several weeks ago the former owners, EQ Waste Management and their director Adrian Lupson, were fined more than £17,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £66,000 because the management of the site had fallen short of the standards required.

Among the grounds for the prosecution were failures in storing waste correctly which led to the risk of fire, grass cuttings and tree branches left unshredded and untreated and problems with the site's drainage system.

During the summer Navitas has held a series of public exhibitions and it has now established a Community Liaison Panel (CLP) to represent the local community's views about the proposal and address concerns that might arise throughout the planning process.

Navitas has a sale option for the land and has said all existing composting operations will cease when they take it over because the waste which is currently causing the smells will no longer be delivered to the site.

But Verulam Residents Association has been told that the current wood chipping activity will continue which is causing them some concern.

Barrie Mort, chairman of the residents association, said: "Many of us thought that one was replacing the other but the wood recycling and biomass are going to feed off the other."

He said they had asked if it was possible to put the wood chipping activity undercover in some form of building or shed to reduce the possibility of pollution but had been told that was not possible.

The residents association is also concerned about the possibility of dangerous emissions from the biomass facility such as chlorine and is waiting to learn more about the emissions before formally submitting its comments on the proposal to the county council.


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